In Part One of this article, I explained how the word “oasis” has lost an important part of its metaphorical meaning. An oasis is not merely a pleasant, relaxing place. It is also a place of contrast, which removes us from normal circumstances, and opens the mind to fresh new ideas. An oasis provides intellectual freedom.
However, this freedom is not automatic. We can enter an “oasis,” and yet choose to resist its effects. How can someone resist the pleasures of an oasis? In Part One, I mentioned my recent trip to Junam Reservoir. After strolling around the reservoir for a few hours, my wife and I made our way back towards the main entrance. A group of four women walked past us in the opposite direction. They were dressed in professional clothes, and talking loudly among themselves. None of them were looking at the water. We sat on a bench to enjoy the scenery for a few minutes longer before leaving.
Within minutes, the same group of women walked past us again. They were leaving the reservoir after a five minute visit! One of the women was playing music on her cell phone while they talked. They were walking more quickly now, and their speech and laughter were louder than before. Their noisiness was an obvious attempt to ignore their surroundings, like children who cover their ears and sing because they don’t want to hear their parent. These women had not been at the reservoir long enough to feel disappointed or bored. In truth, they were running away.
Running away from what? There were no scary animals or people at Junam. The place was quiet and peaceful. And that, I believe, is the answer. They were running away from the peace and quiet. The oasis, the contrast with everyday experience which opens the mind to strange new thoughts, was upsetting to them, so they needed to escape. The pleasure of an oasis is easy to understand, but this was something surprising. They were afraid of contrast, of quiet, of intellectual freedom. This means they were afraid of their own minds. I believe this is a special feeling of modern life. It is the fear of the oasis.
Daren Jonescu firstname.lastname@example.org
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